And for Sand
So, you know the ampersand is a logogram representing the word “and”- of course you do. We’ve all been using the ampersand for years- well, typing it more likely, as it can be quite tricky to write out in script. I like that though- I like how it defies easy transcribing with a pen or pencil, it curves of its own accord, and will only really be mastered by those who write as an art form. If you doubt me- try it now. Write out a perfect little ampersand, and I promise you, you’ll find it a bit tricky. If the anchor is one of my favourite icons or symbols, the ampersand is most definitely my favourite logogram. It made complete sense to work the design into a linocut for printing: and funnily enough, I loved it so much that I decided to have it printed as a screen print, in a variety of hues. I am so pleased with the end result: I thought I could only love the black: turns out I adore the gentle hues in the screen print range. I would tell you all about the history of the ampersand, but really- you can do the research yourself as there are thousands of articles and entries online tracing the etymology of the little form.
I just know that the ampersand would have a lot to talk about at a party: he’d wax lyrical about all the people he’s brought together, the ideas he’s helped form, and the close friendships he’s forged throughout his life. It was both a symbolic and design choice to use the ampersand in Hector & Haddock- not only do I never tire of looking at the curvy beauty, but when an ampersand is used to join two names, it can often signify a close working relationship. The fact that the ampersand also looks like it’s constantly moving, curving round life’s corners, represents for me the idea of evolution within a business or relationship- hopefully things will never stay the same. The essential elements will be there, but how they interact with each other will change.
I chose to photograph my little ampersand linocut on some very poignant photographic history: my mum Sandy’s photograph album from her childhood & schooldays. I am so lucky to have this incredible piece of my mother’s history: my mother died when I was thirteen, so being the keeper of the photograph album is quite something. For years, I used to look through the album religiously, trying to find clues about her, and what had formed her as a young girl. I fell in love, looking at this album: not only did I fall in love all over again with my mother, but with the era she grew up in: the Fifties and Sixties; the hairbands, beehives, school uniforms worn askew, even the names of her friends and family, written in her inimitable script, white ink on black sugar paper: Meryl, Gus, Fintan, Madeleine, Beatle, De-Dah. They sounded as cool as they looked. When the black and white images gave way to the pastel coloured tints of fresh new photography, I got to know my mother even better- the colours she favoured, the beautiful powder blue of her first car- and I have to say that, looking back at these photographs now, I have clearly imitated my mother throughout my life. And I wouldn’t have it any other way: I miss her dreadfully, and always will do. We are joined together, the two of us, and even though her physical presence is no longer, boy, do I feel her close by sometimes. And that’s what the & for me really symbolises: a closeness, a bond so strong, the real intertwining of two persons.
Sometimes, the & doesn’t need anything else on either side of it. We can imagine what’s there.